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New classrooms provide access and opportunity

Children in rural Ghana are reaping the benefits of better spaces to learn

By George Baiden, CCFC country director, Ghana

Boys at school in Ghana

It’s morning as I visit Sukaya, a farming community of 1,500 people in the Northern Region of Ghana. Children are hurrying and — in some cases — dragging their younger unruly siblings along to school. I pass teary-eyed tots putting up a fight to leave their moms for the day.

 

But, when I get to school, the picture is different. Here children happily run around their bright new yellow classroom, decorated with drawings. There’s excitement in the air as the bell rings, marking the start of the morning assembly. After a few minutes and instructions, the children sing: “We’re marching to our classes.”

 

This scene has been 13 years in the making.

 

In 2006, classes were taught under a tree before being moved to a mud hut. Neither were ideal settings for teaching or learning. That was when Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) intervened. In partnership with local partner Markaz Al Bishara, we joined with the community to build a temporary open-air pavilion with a floor and roof. We’ve since updated it into a school block with classrooms.

 

Emmanuel, head teacher at the school, has many stories from life before the classrooms were built. “As soon as it threatened to rain, children had to run home,” he told me, adding, “[they] were always distracted by motorbikes and other [happenings] around school. Many children did not pay attention, which affected teaching and learning.”

 

Then there’s the problem of distance. It’s not uncommon to have enrolment problems in communities where children travel far to school. And, UNICEF reports the challenge is most acute in Sub-Saharan Africa, where net enrolment for children in primary school was 79 per cent in 2015.

 

New school in Sukaya Ghana

 

Alhassan, a former Parent’s Committee chairman, can confirm how distance to schools can cause challenges. He tells me about the times when children travelled 10 kilometres daily to school and back. It kept many out of school, closing doors to opportunity.

 

CCFC is working to improve those numbers. We’ve provided more than 30 schools and 32 early childcare centres where they’re needed most in rural Ghana.

 

It’s paying off. Today I hear two children from the Sukaya community are in university and many others are completing senior high school.

 

Jato is one student still enjoying the new facilities and looking forward to a future as a nurse. “Because of the new building, I am always happy to come to school,” the 15-year-old tells me.

 

Indeed, as school enrolment improves, children and youth are being better equipped to make better decisions for their futures. And, it’s always humbling to see how grateful families and community members are to supporters for helping them help themselves.

 

I smile as I head home. Today was a good day.

 

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About Christian Children’s Fund of Canada:

Christian Children’s Fund of Canada works globally to support children and youth who dream of a better world. For nearly 60 years, we’ve brought together diverse people and partnerships, driven by a common belief: education extends beyond the walls of a classroom and is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world. We focus on breaking barriers preventing access to inclusive, quality education for all, especially girls.